Friday Social: Welcome to our Tik-Talk

Canary Media makes its TikTok debut and talks to some of the top content creators spurring climate dialogue on the platform.

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Friday Social is a new column from Canary that delves into the intersection of energy, climate and social media. Canary thanks Silverline Communications for its support of the column.

Last month I penned an ode to #energytwitter, and today I welcome you to my Tik-Talk (it’s like a TED talk, but for TikTok). This is part of Canary’s ongoing series on the intersection of social media and the renewables and climate sector.

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If you are completely unfamiliar, TikTok is a social media platform that feeds you an endless supply of short videos that you didn’t know you needed to watch. The algorithm is shockingly good. Despite TikTok’s notoriety as a dancing app for kids, globally it has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and in the U.S. almost 40% are over the age of 30.

All hail TikTok’s Garbage Queen

While I was scrolling through the app recently, the algorithm pointed me to science communicator and sustainability scientist Alaina Wood, better known on TikTok as The Garbage Queen. She’s part of a collective of activists known as EcoTok. Since joining TikTok at the beginning of the pandemic, she’s amassed more than 265,000 followers and has even interviewed Bill Nye the Science Guy as part of TikTok’s Earth Day celebration.

The video of Wood’s that initially caught my attention featured her debunking another viral video that she classifies as climate doom.” Wood goes on to say that videos like this are exacerbating the climate anxiety that many are struggling with today.

On TikTok, The Garbage Queen stands out because she, as a scientist, understands the gravity of the climate problem better than most. But at the same time, she spreads a message of hope and possibility to a large and growing following of the climate-curious.

I spoke with Wood about this. She said:

Feeling hopeless leads to inaction, which hurts the whole climate movement.”

Her message is one of optimism, not nihilism.

If you peruse her page, you’ll find everything from deep dives into the recent report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to pointed jabs at ERCOT, to a series on good news about the climate. In one such video, she says:

Discussing good news does not downplay the severity of the climate crisis. It shows people [that] we have the tools to solve it and are actively working on it.”

She also offers up important insights on individual action and climate change:

People confuse individual action with recycling or using your metal straw, but in reality, really effective individual action includes going to protests, calling your elected officials, getting involved with holding companies accountable.”

I told The Garbage Queen that I’d be writing this up for Canary’s audience of thousands of energy professionals and policymakers and asked her what she’d want to tell them.

They absolutely need to be on TikTok because people are asking all the time, What are the solutions? Who are the groups that are actively implementing these solutions?’ I can’t answer all of those questions because I’m not in those industries.”

She went on to say how much demand there is on the platform for knowledgeable people working on climate solutions.

Cue Canary Media!

Demand for smart, creative, solutions-oriented climate communication, you say? At Canary Media, that’s literally what we do.

I also caught up with another EcoTok content creator, Doria Brown, whose day job is serving as energy manager for the city of Nashua, New Hampshire. On TikTok, she goes by the moniker Earth Stewardess. When asked what her message would be for Canary’s audience, she said:

The future is that app with all the little dancers on it. The future is video, and it’s important to learn to communicate in those quick [Instagram] Reels and TikTok-style videos.”

We’re inspired by The Garbage Queen and the Earth Stewardess and want to join that conversation. We at Canary Media have a clear-eyed understanding of the climate crisis, but we highlight solutions and the people working on them in our own inimitable way.

So, beginning this week, Canary Media is officially on TikTok.

And you should be too. You, dear Canary readers, are the boots on the ground in this climate fight. You’re manufacturing and deploying carbon-free technologies at scale. You’re pushing for equitable and just energy policies. You’re developing software that’s optimizing our grid. You’re electrifying.

We want to help tell your story, our story, to a new and bigger audience. We want to inform and ultimately inspire more people to solve the climate crisis, whether it’s joining the renewables workforce, getting involved with local politics, holding corporations accountable, or maybe even becoming a fellow climate communicator.

So if you haven’t already, pull out your phones, download the app and give us a follow on TikTok.

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Silverline Communications, the supporter of this column, is a climatetech and ESG communications firm with deep experience in all facets of the clean economy. Learn more about how Silverline connects clients with stakeholders on social channels and beyond.

Mike Munsell is director of growth at Canary Media. He previously led marketing for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. He landed at WoodMac via its acquisition of GTM, where he led marketing for GTM Research.